Karachi's corona drive-through screening, testing facility gets encouraging response

Updated April 07, 2020

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INDUS Hospital staff collect data of people registered for drive-through coronavirus screening at Clifton on Monday.—White Star
INDUS Hospital staff collect data of people registered for drive-through coronavirus screening at Clifton on Monday.—White Star

KARACHI: An increasing number of people are opting for the drive-through screening and testing facility for the coronavirus recently launched by the Sindh government in collaboration with the Indus Hospital, health department officials told Dawn on Monday.

Established at the Jahangir Kothari Parade area of Clifton, the free-of-cost facility aims to help suspected Covid-19 patients.

“The idea was conceived after the administration learnt that many people in the district are reluctant to visit government-designated diagnostic and treatment centres for coronavirus offering free testing facility,” said Dr Tasleem Amir, a senior medical officer now on special assignment in district South.

The free facility is mainly for residents of district South

Explaining the reason, she said they had to wait for long hours there and feared that they might contract the virus in crowded hospital settings. The private hospitals, on the other hand, offered coronavirus test at a high price.

“To help citizens, the deputy commissioner discussed these issues in detail with experts at the Indus Hospital. The idea to have a mobile testing facility was rejected since in that case the standard operating procedures [recommended for Covid-19] couldn’t be followed,” she said, adding that the present mode helped meet required medical needs.

Describing the public response as “very encouraging” so far, she said the registration for the service was increasing day by day, though no proper publicity campaign had been carried out by the health department.

To utilise the drive-through screening and testing facility for the coronavirus, people need to call at 021-99203012 to get a time slot for screening and testing. Both motorbikes and cars are allowed at the station where suspected patients are screened twice.

Based on the results of screening, a person is either asked to further proceed for testing or exit. The test result is delivered next day by telephone or on WhatsApp.

Over the last three to four days, 178 calls were received. Of them, 116 suspected patients were registered and given specific day and time for screening and testing.

Over 100 people have, however, turned up at the station so far. None of the patients have tested positive.

According to health department officials, while the facility has been launched only for the residents of district South, serious patients from other districts are also being registered and tested.

The department plans to launch two more such stations.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2020